OSHA looking into death at Golden Valley Menards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the accidental death of an employee at the Menards in Golden Valley Thursday.

James Stanback, 19, was killed in the store's outdoor lumber area at about 10 a.m. when a pallet of lumber fell on a forklift he was driving, Golden Valley police said.

The company released two short video clips from the lumberyard showing wood sliding onto the forklift as it moved close to the pile. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office attributed Stanback's death to "mechanical asphyxia."

Minnesota OSHA opened an investigation Friday, OSHA spokesman James Honerman said. "We will inspect work areas for safety or health hazards, try to determine what caused or contributed to the accident and review whether existing OSHA standards were violated."

There is no set time frame for an OSHA investigation, Honerman said. An investigator will also review records showing what types of safety and health training employees have received. OSHA standards detail how the training should be conducted and what it should include.

OSHA records show no previous investigations at the Golden Valley Menards, he said, but an employee at a Burnsville Menards was killed in a similar accident in 2017.

"An employee was lifting a pallet of bundled 2 by 4 [wood pieces] with a forklift and turned the forklift. The employee was pinned to the road when the forklift toppled over and was crushed," the OSHA records say.

In that case, the company was penalized $25,000, which is the minimum fine for citations connected to the death of an employee if there were no willful or repeat violations.

Of the 109 workplace fatalities Minnesota OSHA has investigated over the past five years, the category with the largest number, 42, is called "contact with object/equipment," which includes the 2017 Menards case, Honerman said.

Stanback's family and friends have held several protests outside the Golden Valley store, demanding an investigation and saying that the store should have closed for the day after the incident. It closed several hours afterward and remained closed for part of Friday, citing respect for the family's grief.

Katy Read • 612-673-4583